Oskaloosa’s New Fire Chief Jeff Swanson

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Oskaloosa has welcomed a new fire chief. Jeff Swanson has taken over the helm of the Oskaloosa Fire Department, a position former Chief Mark Neff vacated nearly a year ago and filled by Interim Chief Dave Christenson until his retirement. We recently sat down with Swanson and talked about his transition to Oskaloosa.

Alrighty, and you came to Oskaloosa, as the new fire chief, and where was life at before he came to Oskaloosa?

It was broken up into a couple of different pieces. My last piece, working most recently is, I was from McComb, Illinois, which is where Western Illinois University is home to. And I was teaching at the university there for the last eight years from 2012 to the present. And I taught in the law enforcement department but in, under that law enforcement department is the fire science school. So Previous to that I was in Chicagoland, a smaller suburb out to the west side called St. Charles. And that’s where I was actually born and raised. By happenstance became a high school student, part-time member of the fire department there and my junior year work there. My senior year, after day two, I was telling the fellows The other day I started August 31st, and September 1st, I knew I was doing the rest of my life. That’s the fire service just reached out and went right in here and grabbed me and said, This is what you’re going to do.

Maybe it changes in order now. What were your thoughts? How did you find out,

I’ve always had a desire to get back into the what I call the active fire service. Now seemed like a great time. This community is a phenomenal fit for we’re kind of like this. This community reminds me so much of St. Charles, that I truly feel at home here after living here a week or so. I made it through the first selection. My wife and I came to town and walked around town, specifically the square and this area downtown. Really stuck into both of us how vibrant of downtown this is. The gazebo or the the band shelter in the square there is just, I don’t want to say unbelievable, but very impressive, I guess would be a better way of phrasing that. And had a nice lunch. Did a little bit of walking around. After that we did some driving around town, to get a feel for the community. I was very impressed with the whole community, whether it be the university on the north side or the industrial development on the southeast corner. Having the four lane and direct access to Des Moines, Pella, etc. This community is really poised to do some growing if they so choose.

You went from more of the education to the active fire service as you call it. So now you’re throwing on your bunker gear, and you’re hopping in a truck now. Tell me about that change for you?

Well, it absolutely isn’t. And actually, one of the council members asked me that question as well. How are you going to transition from teaching the theoretical back to the active? And quite frankly, I was talking with one of my other professor friends. In our department in law enforcement and fire. We frankly don’t really teach theoretical. Ninety plus percent of the professors have been either a police officer, FBI agent, firefighter, whatever it is that they’re teaching.

When a new leader arrives and kind of go. I’d like to maybe see some things a different way. Are some of those some you have some thoughts on that, that, you know, maybe we’d like to try something new or do something slightly different way?

Well, certainly, there are a variety of different ways to accomplish the same task. I use the example of if we’re going to hop in the car and drive to California. There’s a lot of different roads we can take to get there.

Will there be some changes, potentially. This is part of the initial getting to know Oskaloosa and its intricacies of the department and how we interact with EMA, the law enforcement both the sheriff’s office and the Oskaloosa Police Department. How we interact with the departments else within the city. Me being the new person in town that there’s some adjustments that I have to make. It’s not all what, how the fire department’s going to adjust to me oh now there’s going to be a little bit of give and take much like a marriage. I’m going to need to adjust and understand what has worked very well for Oskaloosa for the past X amount of years or whatever it may be. Some things that I may view as well, I think we might be able to improve a little bit on that.

Posted by on Oct 13 2020. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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